Where can you find tree climbing lions?

Located in the southern part of Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Ishasha sector is famous for its tree-climbing lions.

Alongside Southern Tanzania, the Ishasha sector is one of only two places in Africa where you can see tree-climbing lions.

After mountain gorillas, lions are the second most sought after species in Uganda. In 2006, the Wildlife Conservation Service estimated that each lion in Queens generated around $13,500 per year for Uganda’s economy through revenue from tourism.

Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Why do lions climb trees?

Research suggests that tree climbing is a behavioural adaptation, rather than a product of evolution.

Scientists hypothesise that the lions have adopted this unusual behaviour to escape the irritation caused by bites from tsetse flies.

Other theories suggest that the lions climb trees to avoid the heat of the lower ground. Tree branches offer shade from the midday sun, allowing lions to enjoy an afternoon nap in comfort.

Being perched on a tree branch also serves as a useful vantage point when the lions are hunting.

Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park

How many lions are in Queen Elizabeth National Park?

In 2005, the Wildlife Conservation Service launched a lion monitoring project in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The project found that 20 to 35 lions livewithin the Ishasha sector.

The study revealed that male lions travel freely between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo when leaving their pride. Male lions are excluded from the pride at the age of 3-4 years by the dominant male.

The project also found cases of lions travelling from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to lead a pride in Uganda.

The project found that the Maramagambo Forest is a crucial migratory route for lions that travel from the central sector of Queens to the Ishasha Sector.

Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Game drives in the Ishasha Sector

Although tree climbing lions are the main attraction in the Ishasha sector, it is also home to other majestic mammals, including Ugandan kobs, buffaloes, elephants, and zebras.

The Ishasha sector is an excellent location for game drives as it is a quieter section of the park. You can enjoy the sights and sounds of the wilderness without the distant drone of other safari engines.

Your sweeping view of the plains will not be spoiled by the ant-crawl of vehicles. The absence of traffic means that you can spend more time with the lions.

However, the roads are less well maintained than the park's busier sections, so a good 4x4 vehicle and a knowledgeable guide is required (if booking with us, this will be arranged for you).

Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Threats to lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The lion population in the Ishasha sector has declined over the last decade. The Wildlife Conservation Service estimates that the number of lions has fallen from 6 lions per 100km² to 4 lions per 100km² in the last 10 years.

Human behaviour is a major threat to lions in Ishasha. Conflict between lions and local herdsmen is common. Herdsmen often leave their cattle unattended at night, and lions have been known to attack their livestock.

Some herdsmen retaliate by poisoning the carcases of their livestock and in 2018, 11 lion carcases were found in Ishasha. Insecticide poison was found in their bodies.

The Wildlife Conservation Service is working tirelessly to mitigate the human-lion conflict. The WCS has cleared land outside the park, allowing herdsmen to relocate to fertile grazing lands outside the territory of the lions.

Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Discover Queen Elizabeth National Park

Ishasha Sector

Lion climbing tree in the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Instead of scanning your eyes across vast savannah grasslands, look up, and you might find something lurking in the sycamore-fig trees. This is the Ishasha Sector of Queen …

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